Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Many people don't accept themselves as clay on the potter's wheel of God. They become slaves to their peers who value appearances. But you can see yourself as a unique creation of God, and then live in freedom.
To find out how, stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, many people feel they won't be accepted if they're not pretty or handsome. The need for acceptance by others really drives the issue, doesn't it?
It really does. And you know, Dave, I feel so sorry for beautiful young women, those who have natural beauty, because I know that they are going to be attractive to men and those who perhaps want to misuse them. But the other problem is with those who are not that beautiful, just barely pretty, as one person put it, the simple fact is this, we must accept each other the way in which we are, and peer pressure is damaging. That's why I believe so deeply in the message that is being preached here. But also, it's part of a book entitled Who Are You to Judge? Learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths and lies. And speaking about appearances, I'm reminded of the words of God to Moses when he said this, Who has made man's mouth?
Who makes the dumb, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord? Oh, I pray that God will use our ministry to bring many people into a sense of freedom with a way in which God created them. Now, here's what I want you to do, especially the young people who are here today. I would like you to look into a mirror, a full-length mirror, if possible. Look into that mirror and say, Father, I thank you for the way in which you created me. I thank you for my limitations.
I thank you for the things that I don't particularly like that I would like to have had differently. Please forgive me for thinking you were not around when I was created. I pray that you might grant me the ability to accept who I am and I don't have to be anybody else. What freedom that gives to people to finally give up striving against God. The Bible says in Isaiah, woe to him who strives with his Maker and who says to his Maker, why hast thou made me thus? Isaiah said, does the potter not have the right over the clay to make it as it wills? Must the clay jar look into the eyes of the potter and complain? Of course, we do all that we can to try to make ourselves look as good as we can given our limitations, but we accept those limitations as from God's hand because we know that he is the creator and our father.
What an opportunity to be free. But you know, that's not the end of the assignment. It is not just that we look in the mirror and say that we are content with the way in which God made us, but rather I have to accept you the way in which God created you and you have to accept me the way in which God created me. You see, if I reject you because you don't reach some artificial standard, a certain height or a certain weight or a certain appearance, if I say, no, I won't have anything to do with you because you don't fit this category of being a beautiful, winsome person, I am rejecting the God who created you. I too am striving against God who is our maker.
You know what? Can we accept the way in which we are as the wise and a good choice of God? And think of the freedom and the sense of acceptance. Do you realize that when God created all of the people that are in the world today and there are what, four or five billion and before those billions, there were other billions, I'm sure. God said to himself, I'm going to create each one differently. Not two will be alike and each uniquely woven in their mother's womb.
Oh yes, parental characteristics are passed on. We know that, but all part of the divine plan. God created your body and mind. Secondly, God owns the human body.
God owns it. 1 Corinthians chapter 6, 1 Corinthians chapter 6, that very familiar passage where it talks about the fact that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, which we have from God. And we are not our own, it says. Do you not know, verse 19, that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.
You are bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body. God owns the human body. No, my friend, you don't have a right to do as you wish because this is your body. You don't have a right to say I can use it however I want to. I can abuse it because this is my body. It is given to you by God, first of all, by virtue of creation. And if you are saved, it is now his also by virtue of redemption and he owns it. I remember Joe Stoll talking about the fact that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and he said that he knows of someone who stepped on a scale and as those numbers went way up, he said, you know, this isn't a temple. This is a garage. Well, that's the way our bodies are.
I don't know about your garage, but I know what ours was like. Junk. It's God's and we can abuse it because of the way in which we refuse to take care of it because of lack of care, because of what we eat, because of the way in which we drive ourselves or lack of sleep. We can abuse our body.
We can abuse our bodies if we determine that we are going to be thinner than anyone else ever thought we could possibly be and we choose to starve ourselves because we're going to be in control and we're going to look the way in which we want to look. What I'm going to say now, I'm going to say very carefully because I've been agonizing about this for a week or two as to what I should say about body piercings and tattoos. So it will be said with a great deal of care. You know, it used to be, as I mentioned, women had earrings. Now, of course, you have nose rings, you have tongue rings, you have navel rings and well, I'll stop there. You have all of this happening.
You have tattoos that sometimes cover the body, sometimes permanent tattoos. And you say to yourself, is this really what a Christian should do? Is this what a Christian should do? You know, it's interesting that in the Old Testament, God expressly forbid that. For example, in the 19th chapter of the book of Leviticus, the Lord says expressly, because this is what the heathen would do. He says, do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves.
I am the Lord. And some people say, well, we don't accept everything that's in Leviticus. And this was a heathen practice. We know that it all began with heathen practices.
Nobody doubts that. But it's very difficult for me to be able to see how that this kind of an abuse of the body can honor God. Perhaps all that I need to say is the words of a woman who had a permanent tattoo and then became a Christian. And she said, that tattoo is a reminder to me of my past life. It has become a reminder to me therefore of God's grace in my life.
Think about that before you even think about whether that's what you should do. And then we can misuse the body because it becomes a vehicle for sexual attraction. And that was the great emphasis with which I began this message. And you know, the great emphasis on cosmetic surgery nowadays, that great emphasis is in a sense intended to deny the curse. That we were born with that eventually leads to death.
Instead of honoring old age, people want to stave off old age as long as they possibly can, striving against it. I mean, I'm talking about a week ago or so on TV. Some of you may have seen this. There was a woman who said, I have spent a million dollars on cosmetic surgery. By the way, can't you and I think of how that million could have been better spent?
But anyway, let's hurry on. She said, I've spent a million dollars on cosmetic surgery. And I told my husband that even after I die, he can have cosmetic surgery done because I even want to look good in the coffin. Lady, you're not going to look good in the coffin. I've seen many people in a coffin.
None of them really look good because they're dead. Just accept it. God owns the body. Before you say, this is what I'm going to wear. This is what I'm going to do.
This is how I'm going to flaunt myself. Before you say all that, remember your body belongs to God. It isn't yours. Third, God uses the body. Notice what the text says, glorify God in your body. You see, what God intended is that our bodies be vehicles of mercy, of grace. It says in the book of Isaiah, I have created you to be my servant. And so what God is saying is that as Jesus Christ goes to heaven and his body is here on earth, as we explained a few weeks ago, we then become his body. So because we become his body, we become the vehicle of sharing the gospel, we become the vehicle of love and mercy and grace because we have within us the blessed Holy Spirit of God who indwells this temple, who owns this temple, and whose power is able to break forth out of this temple as we yield to the blessed Holy Spirit of God, content with a way in which God made us.
Let me bring this down to where all of us live in a specific way as we kind of summarize and bring the strands of this thinking together. First of all, character is more important than appearance. Character is more important than appearance. Remember the story. Samuel is supposed to find a king and he goes and he is looking at the sons of Jesse and one by one they parade before him because he goes to Jesse and says, God showed me that from your family the king should come, your member. And Jesse gets all of his sons together. Samuel thought that they were all there and every one of them marched by and God said no to them all. And Samuel said there's some mistake. I've looked at all of your sons and God rejected them all and then Jesse said well you know there is another one but he's not even here. He didn't show for this beauty contest because he's taking care of the sheep. Samuel says get him.
And it was in that context that God said man looks on the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart. Parents, I need to say this to you. You say well I really love my child. It's not enough that you love your child. You must also respect your child. You must have that child grow up with a sense of acceptance and a sense of being able to be loved by you and to be loved by God. You must grow that child so that he or she does not hate themselves because they do not measure up to this false impossible standard that the world has put before us. You must teach your child to be content with who he or she is as God's creation and as a member of God's family. And you must emphasize what God emphasizes, truthfulness, faithfulness, honesty, commitment. That's where the emphasis has to be.
It's character which is more important than appearance. Secondly, we must have modesty. Modesty is more important than acceptance. I feel sorry for parents today because one of their complaints legitimately is what do we buy for our young people?
What do we buy for our daughters? All of the clothes in the store are, to put it mildly, immodest. Oftentimes beyond that to be, quite frankly, indecent.
And I don't know how to solve all those problems. But what I do know is that Christian young people and older women should be examples of modesty. The Bible says that the emphasis on a woman, and this is 1 Peter chapter 3, that the emphasis is not the outward adorning.
He even talks about jewelry and so forth, which I'm sure is not wrong, except that what he's saying is that's not the emphasis. It's to be the hidden person of the heart, which is in the sight of God of great price. The Scripture says in Proverbs 31 verse 30, charm is deceptive, beauty disappears, but a woman who fears the Lord should be praised. What an emphasis that we need in today's society. Finally, and last, we must find significance in our relationship with God, not the approval of others.
Ultimately, our security has to be with God. I think, again, of someone who had plastic surgery, a lot of it. She said, I have based all my self-worth on my appearance. Maybe I should have chosen something else.
Maybe she should have chosen something else. Have you ever wondered what Jesus looked like? We have many artistic representations. Many artists have drawn pictures of Jesus, but fact is nobody had a camera. Nobody, to our knowledge, took a picture of him. Nobody drew a picture of him.
All that we have to go on is supposition. I'm sure that he looked something like Mary, but what did Jesus look like? In the Old Testament book of Isaiah 53, it says something very interesting that may give us a clue, that Jesus was not very attractive.
It says he shall grow up before him as a tender plant and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form nor comeliness nor beauty that we should desire him. Maybe Jesus would not have won a male beauty contest. He simply did not have that physical attraction. In fact, we learned a few weeks ago that the apostle Paul was apparently short and balding and very unimpressive because his critics said of him, they said, you know, his letters are good, but his appearance is very unimpressive.
Read that in today's world. He'd have been a disaster on television for sure. Jesus might not have looked that great. In fact, later on, of course, when he was flogged and so forth, it says that his visage, his appearance was so marred that he no longer looked like a man.
Just this blob that had been so severely whipped apparently. What happens here is that Jesus puts a lie forever to the idea that the value of a person is dependent upon the way in which he looks. Jesus did the will of God. Jesus served the father. Jesus completed the race successfully because he knew that what was in his heart and the desires and the motivation of his obedience. That's what the father was seeking for. The eyes of the Lord traveled throughout the whole earth seeking those who are beautiful. Is that what it says?
No, the eyes of the Lord traveled to and fro about the whole earth seeking those whose hearts are perfect toward God. Accept yourself. Take that long look in the mirror and say, God, after years of striving, it's okay.
And then rejoice in the fact that your value is rooted in your creation and your relationship with God and your relationship with Christ and let the world do as they will when it comes to evaluating and judging beauty instead of character. Let's pray. Our father, we pray in the name of Jesus that indeed you would give us contentment with who we are. We pray especially for the young people who struggle, who, oh father, the competition, the sense of who they are is being determined constantly.
The number of cards that they receive for a birthday party, all of that is related to their appearance. Our father today grant them a sense of security, a sense of saying, yes, I'm content to be whom you have created. And help us, father, to be able to judge rightly that we might see the heart and not simply the outward appearance. Father, receive our worship and receive our hearts.
We ask through Jesus Christ. Amen. Amen. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. Don't you wish that every teenager in America would have heard this message? Instead of all of the pressure that comes to them via television, the internet, to recognize that God created them the way they are. And with that, they should be content. Because as I emphasized in the sermon, the simple fact is that that which is most important about us is the part that nobody sees. It's our hearts and not simply our bodies. If you're blessed as a result of this ministry, I want to remind you that I've written a book entitled, Who Are You to Judge?
Learning to distinguish between truths, half-truths, and lies. For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. And the reason that we are offering this resource to you is because we believe it'll be of help to you as you navigate a very confusing world, a world in which values are turned upside down. It has to do with a lot of different subjects, but what I'm trying to do is to help people to look at life biblically rather than through the lens of culture. Here's what you can do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com.
RTWOffer is all one word. Or if you prefer, you can call us right now at 1-888-218-9337. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Many people carry a card in their wallets letting doctors know their wishes should they die. Some are like Zina, a listener who wrote, saying this, I'm considering leaving my body to science. I figure if it can be of use to anybody, then that would be good since I won't need it anymore.
Or will I? Zina, thank you for your question. First of all, if you want to will your body to science, I think that that is commendable because you're absolutely right. They need bodies to work on and to teach doctors and coroners and all of the things that we need in this fallen world. Will you need your body again? Yes. Will God resurrect it?
Yes. Will willing it to science cause a problem for God? No, because our bodies generally disintegrate anyway. But let me say on the other side of the equation, I personally want to be buried somewhere and the reason is I would like to think that my children and relatives can actually go to a grave and hopefully on the gravestone there will be something that will encourage them. I think that it is good for families to have traditions and to have a history that they can talk about.
So even though I wouldn't make the decision that you are making, I do think that it is a personal decision and if you wish to will your body to science, I would commend you for doing that. Thank you, Zina, for your question. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer, for those perspectives.
If you'd like to hear your question answered, you can. Just go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us with a question at 1-888-218-9337.
That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Occult influence is very real, enshrined in modern philosophies as well as the media, music, TV, the movies. As believers running the race of life, we must understand what we're facing and how to deal with it. Next time we discern the roots of modern-day philosophies. Don't miss Judging Neo-Paganism. Thanks for listening. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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